Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mixologist Rob Hanks of Reserve Wine & Food Named 2012 Winner of "Art of the Cocktail"

A creative cocktail called “Shipwreck Rum Punch” – crafted by mixologist Rob Hanks of Reserve Wine & Food – was named the winning recipe in the 2nd Annual Art of the Cocktail competition sponsored earlier this month by New Holland Artisan Spirits.

“I've always been inspired by the ‘old school,’ and thus was born the idea of a seasonal punch, the original of the mixed party beverages,” said Hanks, who has worked at Reserve for two years. “The idea of the punch was something to bring people closer together, so with this I keep the same tradition but by bringing West Michigan as a whole together through one beverage.”

Hank’s “Shipwreck Rum Punch” featured seasonal fruit (cranberries, grapes, raspberries and plums) macerated in New Holland Huron Rum, blended with more pure Huron rum, bourbon, house-infused cherry brandy, black tea, and lemon oleo saccharum. The drink was then topped with Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine from Michigan-based L. Mawby Vineyards and garnished with farm market green grapes.

Twelve bars and venues from the Grand Rapids community created cocktails using at least one of New Holland’s Michigan-made spirits and one fresh Michigan ingredient. The public voted on these cocktails, narrowing the field to the Top Five, which were judge by an esteemed panel of beverage experts on October 15 to come up with the winner.

In 2011, Reserve was named a winner of OpenTable’s Diner’s Choice Awards for Top Wine Lists in the United States – one of only two restaurants in Michigan to make the list. Earlier this year, Chef Matthew Millar was named a 2012 semifinalist in the James Beard “Best Chef: Great Lakes Region.”

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids at 201 Monroe Avenue NW, Reserve Wine & Food offers a world-class menu fully embracing the West Michigan farm-to-table philosophy in an elegant yet casual fine dining setting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Michigan Craft Beer “Enthusiasts” Offered Exclusive Fall & Winter Brewery Tours

One of the benefits of membership in the Michigan Brewers Guild “Enthusiast” program is special VIP tours and tastings at member breweries around the state. To participate in one of these special tours, one must be a current Enthusiast member – a group dedicated to celebrating the growing craft beer industry in the Great Lakes State. Enthusiast memberships are $45 each and are available online at MBG Enthusiast Membership. There is no additional charge for the tours, but reservations are recommended and attendees must show their Enthusiast card.

The Fall 2012 schedule includes nine (9) tours, beginning in early November and running through February.

Saturday, November 3 (1 pm)
Mt. Pleasant Brewing Co.
614 West Pickard St., Mt. Pleasant
989-400-4666 |

Join Head Brewer Kim Kowalski for a brewery tour in Mt. Pleasant. Contact Kim to make a reservation.

Saturday, November 10 (Noon)
Arcadia Brewing Co
103 West Michigan Ave., Battle Creek
269-963-9690 |

Offering a free brewery tour and $1 off beers. RSVP to Sean Kelley at

Saturday, November 17 (Noon)
Greenbush Brewing Co.
5885 Sawyer Rd., Sawyer
269-405-1085 |

Join the staff at Greenbush for an exclusive tour for Enthusiast Members. Spaces are limited.

Saturday, December 1 (11am)
Founders Brewing Company
235 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids
616-776-2182 |

Join us on a fall tour of our newly expanded brewing facility, open exclusively to Enthusiast Members only. The tour has a limited number of spots, so respond early! RSVP:

Saturday, December 1 (11am)
Sherwood Brewing Co.
32411 Dequindre Rd., Madison Heights
583-532-9669 |

Sherwood will offer $2.99 lunch specials, $2 off pints and a tour with a brewer as well as free souvenirs for Enthusiast Members. Contact and RSVP: Lisa Sherwood –

Sunday, January 6 (Noon)
Arbor Brewing Co.
114 East Washington St., Ann Arbor
734-213-1393 |

Exclusive tour and tasting with Arbor Brewing Co. Spots are limited and you must RSVP in advance to by Friday, January 4.

Saturday, January 19 (1 pm)
Vander Mill
4921 Cleveland St., Spring Lake
616-842-4337 |

Join the Vander Mill crew for an exclusive tour. RSVP to Paul Vander Heide -

Sunday, January 30 (Noon)
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
5919 Chicago Rd., Warren
586-979-8361 |

Special tour open to MBG Enthusiast Members only. Samples and appetizers will be served. RSVP by January 17 to

Friday, February 22 (3pm)
New Holland Brewing Co.
684 Commerce Court, Holland, MI
616-510-2259 |

Beer Enthusiasts can sign-up online here: The password to get the free tour is Enthusiast 2012. Each participant will receive a 15% off coupon towards merchandise at the company store. Space is limited to 25. RSVP to or 616-510-2259.

At just $45, a Michigan Brewers Guild “Enthusiast” membership is a great value. Benefits include VIP status at our various festivals with early admission, discounts at participating member breweries, special VIP brewery tours, and a free MiBeer t-shirt. Purchase your Enthusiast Membership online at MBG Enthusiast Membership.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes well over $24 million in wages with a conservative economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

Founded in 1997 and celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012, the Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, we strive to achieve a 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.

For more information, including a list of Michigan breweries, log on to ( |

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Michigan Brewers Guild Expands Staff; Shannon Kuchera Hired as Communications Manager

The Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG) – which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2012 – has expanded its staff to include a Communications Manager. Shannon Kuchera of Ann Arbor started in mid September and assists with many of the day-to-day operations of the organization.

“We are very excited about bringing Shannon on board,” says Executive Director Scott Graham. “Our organization and the overall industry are growing quickly and we need to be able to better serve them on multiple levels. Shannon’s addition to our team will allow us to do that.”

Kuchera, who also moonlights as a mosaic tile artist and owner of Mosaic Geek, worked for nearly four years as an online marketing coordinator and search engine optimization specialist at Fluency Media in Ann Arbor; was a national account coordinator for Warner/Elektra/Atlantic Corp at Borders in Ann Arbor; and remains active with the Chelsea Center for the Arts and Ann Arbor Art Center. She also taught English for two years in Moscow, Russia and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan.

“The enthusiasm around craft beer in our state is such an exciting, positive thing, and only promises to grow,” Kuchera says. “I'm thrilled to be joining the Michigan Brewers Guild and look forward to my role supporting the industry and spreading the love of great Michigan beer.”

In addition to its two staff members, the Guild operates with an active five-member board that is charged with developing the direction of the organization’s events, marketing, legislative initiatives and overall operation.

The Guild
Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes well over $24 million in wages with a economic contribution well over $133 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, the organization strives to achieve 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.


1997 – Creation of Michigan Brewers Guild
1998 – Inaugural Summer Beer Festival – July (Greenmead, Livonia)
2000 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates (Frog Island, Ypsilanti)
2004 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates & Expands to 2 Days (Riverside Park, Ypsilanti)
2005 – Inaugural Winter Beer Festival – February (Old Town, Lansing)
2007 – Winter Beer Festival Moves to Grand Rapids (Fifth-Third Ballpark, Comstock Park)
2008 – Inaugural UP Fall Beer Festival – September (Mattson Lower Harbor Park, Marquette)
2008 – Inaugural Detroit Fall Beer Festival – October (Eastern Market, Detroit)
2012 - Detroit Fall Beer Festival expands to 2 days

For more information, including a list of Michigan craft breweries, log on to

Friday, October 12, 2012

Atwater Brewery Celebrates its 15th Anniversary with Tashmoo “Bloktoberfest”

Atwater Brewery, Detroit’s hometown craft beer brewery, has joined forces with Tashmoo Biergarten to celebrate its 15th Anniversary, kick-off the 4th Annual Detroit Beer Week, and resurrect its legendary Bloktoberfest street scene.

On Saturday, October 20th, Detroit beer lovers can join the fun rain-or-shine inside and outside Atwater Brewery at 237 Joseph Campau in Detroit’s Historic Rivertown District (noon to 9:00 P.M.). In addition to its many award-winning styles of beer, Atwater will feature its Bloktoberfest, a Marzen style beer similar (but better!) than the famed German Octoberfest beers that have been enjoyed in German Rathskellars for centuries. Blocktoberfest guests can enjoy Detroit-based food vendors and live music throughout the day.

“Over the past 15 years, Atwater has become Detroit’s largest craft brewer,” said Mark Rieth, Atwater owner. “We decided to resurrect our popular Bloktoberfest as a way to celebrate and show our appreciation for our beer loving Atwater customers. Our friends at Tashmoo agreed to take their event on the road to join us.”

As a precursor to the Saturday festivities, on Friday evening, October 19, “Atwater Takes Over the Block” with its brews featured at neighboring Rattlesnake Club and Andrews on the Corner, both locations within a few hundred feet of Atwater Brewery’s historic 1919 warehouse. Both events are part of Detroit Beer Week, which runs from October 18 thru October 29.

Atwater’s Bloktoberfest brew is a traditionally styled “Marzen”. It is clean, with some light almond or walnut notes that come from the Munich malt. Then a touch of darker malt is added to bring in elusive raisin or fig notes. As is traditional in German brewing, the hop is balanced, with the slight, but perceptible flavor and nose of Hersbrucker hops. Atwaters other German brews, including D-Light, Atwater’s Lager, Voodoo Vator, Purple Gang Pilsner, Double Down and a special Dunkel will also be available.

For more information on Bloktoberfest (Saturday, October 20, noon to 9:00 P.M.) and other Beer Week activities, please visit:

Atwater Brewery (web) or Atwater Facebook
Detroit Beer Week

Did you know?

Marzen is the German word for March. The Marzen was the last brew of the year before the onset of summer, which made brewing impossible. A large quantity would be brewed and stored in Bavarian ice caves to be brought out during the summer. Once summer ended, the remainder would be tapped in bulk to be consumed at an annual festival which celebrated both the harvest and the beginning of the new brewing season. And, thus Octoberfest was born….

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Artist Studios, Galleries, Farms & Restaurants Featured in Arts & Eats

Dozens of West Michigan Arts & Foodie Destinations Spotlighted in this Self-Guided Agri-Cultural Driving Tour, October 20-21

More than 60 West Michigan artist studios, galleries, farms and restaurants – nearly double the number from last year – are participating in the 2nd Annual Arts & Eats weekend, Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21, throughout portions of Allegan, Barry and surrounding counties. The tour is made possible with support from Hastings Mutual Insurance Company.

“With the addition of the Allegan County Tourist Council as a primary planning partner this year, along with the Barry County Tourism, Council, tour stops now extend from M66 west, all the way over to the Lake Michigan shoreline,” says Ginger Hentz, Barry County Tourism Co-Chair and Barry County MSU Extension Educator.

Arts & Eats is a free self-guided driving tour of artist studios, eateries featuring locally-grown food, and farms that feature the best in Michigan specialty farm products. Travelers are encouraged to explore the back roads to visit participating farms, art studios and central venues, which are open both days from 10am to 5pm. Restaurants are open during normal business hours; many will kick-off the tour the night before (October 19) serving especially prepared menu selections prepared with locally grown and purchased foods.

Art enthusiasts can visit more than two dozen different galleries, studios and central venues to view the works of local painters, potters, photographers, sculptors and other artisans. Artists welcome guests to their studios, while galleries feature some of the most talented local art for the tour. Those who do not have a public studio are displaying works at five different central venues spread out throughout the tour area.

New this year are two “Public Art” sites – one in Allegan at Baker Allegan Studios and the other at the old County Courthouse in downtown Hastings. This program, under the direction of Toby TenEyck, artist and professor with Michigan State University department of Sociology, will engage all travelers passing through the area to make their artistic mark on a common canvas.

Participants can also experience local foods both at the farms where the food is grown and area restaurants. Nine area farms that grow the food that we eat or that grow the fiber we wear are participating this year. This tour is a unique opportunity for people to visit farms that may not normally be open to the public.

Savor amazing seasonal fare at some 14 participating restaurants, where chefs use their creative culinary talents to pull together fabulous menu items – featuring local products – for tour-goers.

According to organizers, the tour has multiple purposes including raising awareness and appreciation of the region’s rural areas, and educating people about the economic, environmental, and health benefits of buying and consuming locally grown foods. Another purpose of the tour is to support Michigan artists as entrepreneurs and also to connect farmers with local restaurants which can provide locally grown foods.

“The idea driving Arts & Eats is to invite tourists to explore rural artists, agricultural venues and restaurants, all the while soaking in our beautiful fall scenic landscape,” Hentz says. “It also supports the area’s rich agricultural and arts communities, which are economic drivers to our local economy.”

Arts and Eats was introduced last fall by the Barry County Tourism Council and this year welcomes the Allegan County Tourist Council, along with other partner organizations, including the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, Hastings Public Library, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Promote Michigan, Thornapple Arts Council, and area artists, studios, and eateries. The premier sponsor is Hastings Mutual Insurance.

A listing of participants, as well as a PDF of the official tour map are online here. The tour guide/map are available at all the sites the days of the tour, as well as at participating venues throughout the month of October.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Valentine Vodka Adds 94-point Ranking from The Tasting Panel to Growing List of Accolades

Detroit-made Valentine Vodka has been recognized by Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel magazine as one of the top vodkas in the country with a 94-point ranking – placing higher than noted international brands like Belvedere, Ketel One, Grey Goose and Absolut.

“Returning to Michigan to start this venture, my goal was to craft a product that competes with the elite imported brands,” says Owner/Distiller Rifino Valentine. “With these latest rankings from the most well-respected wine and spirits reviewer, it really is satisfying that we were able to do just that! Now, we can truly say that you’re not just buying local, you’re buying better!”

Blue, a recipient of a 2001 James Beard Foundation Award as well as the 1997 Communicator of the Year Award from the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, is one of the most influential food and wine personalities in the United States. In addition to being an owner and editor of The Tasting Panel, Blue is Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition – the nation’s largest and most prestigious judging events of its kind and is also the founding Director of its sister event, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Earlier this year, Valentine Vodka was awarded a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In 2011, this Michigan-made product received a Double Gold Medal in the “Best Domestic Vodka” category by The Beverage Tasting Institute also awarded Valentine Vodka with a Gold Medal “Exceptional” in both 2010 and 2011.

As Detroit’s first micro-distilled spirit since Prohibition, the award-winning Valentine Vodka continues to raise the bar for ultra-premium hand-crafted vodka with its clean, crisp and uniquely flavorful taste. As one of the first distilleries in the world to use a triple-grain recipe, Valentine Vodka is hand distilled from a blend of Red Michigan wheat, malted barley and corn, and is proud to use a 100% American supply chain.

After three years of intense research and study, Valentine Vodka reached the market in March, 2009. From Christmas 2009 to the same time 2010, sales for Valentine Vodka quadrupled. In April 2011, production moved to a 5000-square-foot facility in Ferndale and in February 2012 production once again expanded with the addition of a new world-class Christian Carl Still. Today, Valentine Vodka can be found in more than 1800 outlets throughout Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee.

Valentine Vodka is located at 161 Vester Street in Ferndale, Michigan. Online at ( |

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hop Harvest Scheduled for this Week for North Peak's Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA

Crafting rich IPAs is second-nature to the brewers at North Peak Brewing Company, and the new Hoodoo Midwest Wet Hop IPA is no exception. Brewed exclusively with fresh-from-the-farm Cascade and Nugget Michigan hops – grown and nurtured just a stone’s throw up the peninsula at the Old Mission Hop Exchange – Hoodoo proudly displays an unparalleled flavor just begging to be experienced. It registered a 99IBUs with a 9.0%ABV.

“Given its strong malt-backed spine, we gave this Hoodoo hops to run,” says brewer Ron Jeffries, who along with brewer Mike Hall bring a combined 40 years of brewing experience to their North Peak beer recipes. “It starts hoppy, ends hoppy and is nuthin’ but hops in the middle. Well, okay, a little malt in the middle – just enough to keep this Hoodoo from getting fussy. But, it’s pretty much nuthin’ but hops.”

The brewing team at North Peak has taken a different approach to Hoodoo, making it the first wet hopped beer in their repertoire. Wet hopping involves utilizing raw, unprocessed hops that are used straight from the vine within hours of harvesting. Due to the moisture content, one ounce of fresh hops is much less bitter than a comparable mass of dried hops.

Keeping it local is vital to brewing culture and as such should be recognized and celebrated. North Peak is openly dedicated to a circle of beer making on the peninsula. The hops are sourced locally for beer making…beer produces spent grain (rich in nutrients) which is fed to Angus and highland cattle at Leggitt Farms on the peninsula…cows make manure, which is turned into fertilizer that is sent to Marigold Farms and Old Mission Hop Exchange for their hopyards…which produces the quality hops.

Not to mention the cattle which finds its way on the menus at both Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin, part of the Northern United Brewing Company operation on Old Mission Peninsula. Imagine yourself sitting down for a juicy Leggitt burger (topped with local cheese, lettuce and tomatoes), paired with a cold North Peak brew. It doesn’t get much more local than that!

So where did the inspiration for Hoodoo originate? Hoodoo is a form of traditional folk magic that developed from the blending of a number of separate cultures and magical traditions. It incorporates practices from African and Native American customs, as well as some European magical practices. While the Hoodoo man is a trans-cultural phenomena, his roots run deep in Northern Michigan. He is often seen dancing and chanting, drinking up brew that bears his name, as if under some type of mystical spell.

Hoodoo will be available on draft and in the brand’s trademark 12-ounce stubby-bottle 6-packs starting late September through the harvest season. Find it throughout Michigan and Ohio, wherever your favorite North Peak beers are sold.

The North Peak is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales craft beer brands, as well as the Civilized line of spirits and Bonafide Wines. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either its 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table (former Bowers Harbor Inn) restaurant or at the original Jolly Pumpkin facility in Dexter.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.